Chapter 20.94
ENFORCEMENT AND PENALTIES

Sections:

20.94.010    Purpose.

20.94.020    Notice of violation.

20.94.030    Notice of penalty.

20.94.040    Remission of penalty.

20.94.050    Stop work orders.

20.94.060    Appeals.

20.94.070    Permit revocation.

20.94.080    Additional consequences of violations.

*Prior legislation: Ords. 92-079, 93-056, 94-005, 96-013 and 96-056.

20.94.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to ensure compliance with regulations and standards relating to all elements of the Whatcom County zoning code. This chapter provides guidelines to determine when and how to issue notices and/or orders; impose civil penalties; revoke permits and/or review decisions; and address remission and appeal processes. (Ord. 2009-085 § 1 (Exh. A), 2009).

20.94.020 Notice of violation.

(1) In the event any person, firm, partnership, corporation, or other entity violates any of the provisions of this title, the county may issue a notice of violation. The notice shall be in writing and delivered by personal service to the owner, the owner’s agent, the operator and/or violator, and/or sent by certified mail, and/or be conspicuously posted at the site. The date of posting and/or receipt of the notice shall serve as the date of official notification.

(2) The notice shall describe the violation with reasonable particularity declaring the act and/or acts to cease and desist, and/or requiring the necessary corrective action to be taken within a specific and reasonable time. The notice may simultaneously accompany a notice of penalty. (Ord. 2009-085 § 1 (Exh. A), 2009).

20.94.030 Notice of penalty.

(1) Any person, firm, partnership, corporation, or other entity who violates any of the provisions of this title shall be guilty of a civil offense. Each day during which such violation is continued or committed shall constitute a separate offense, and may be fined a sum not to exceed $1,000 for each offense.

(2) The notice shall be in writing and delivered by personal service to the owner, the owner’s agent, the operator and/or violator, and/or sent by certified mail, and/or be conspicuously posted at the site. The notice shall include within its document the amount of the penalty imposed and shall describe the violation with reasonable particularity. The notice may simultaneously accompany a notice of violation. In appropriate cases, corrective action shall be taken within a specific and reasonable time. (Ord. 2009-085 § 1 (Exh. A), 2009).

20.94.040 Remission of penalty.

Within 20 calendar days after the notice of penalty is received, the person incurring the penalty may apply in writing to the county for remission or mitigation of such penalty.

Upon receipt of the application, the county may remit or mitigate the penalty upon whatever terms the county in its discretion deems proper. The county’s final decision on mitigation or remission may be appealed to the hearing examiner if the aggrieved party files a written appeal of said decision within 10 calendar days of its issuance. (Ord. 2009-085 § 1 (Exh. A), 2009).

20.94.050 Stop work orders.

(1) In a nonemergency situation where it may become necessary to issue a stop work order, a notice shall be issued and include language specifying the intent to issue a stop work order no less than 10 calendar days following the date of official notification. The notice of intent to stop work may be included within the notice of violation or as a separate document. The notice of intent to stop work shall provide the opportunity for an administrative pre-deprivation hearing if requested within 72 hours following the date of notification. If it becomes necessary to issue the stop work order following the issuance of the notice of intent to stop work, the requirements for issuing the order shall comply with subsection (3) of this section.

(2) In an emergency situation, where the county has determined that there may be a significant threat to public safety or the environment, the county may order all work to cease until authorized to proceed. The stop work order shall apply to any person, firm, partnership, corporation, or other entity who violates any provision of this title or any code adopted by this title.

(3) The order shall be in writing and delivered by personal service to the owner, the owner’s agent, the operator and/or violator, and/or sent by certified mail, and/or be conspicuously posted at the site. The date of posting and/or receipt shall serve as the date of official notification. The order shall include, in writing, the right to request an administrative post-deprivation hearing within 72 hours following the date of notification.

(4) While the stop work order is in effect, the county may require specific corrective actions to secure the site and/or achieve compliance with this title.

(5) Failure to comply with the stop work order may result in one or both of the following:

(a) A minimum monetary penalty of $1,000 per day for the unauthorized continuation of a violation once a stop work order has been issued.

(b) Failure to comply with the stop work order shall be a gross misdemeanor punishable upon conviction by a minimum fine of $500.00 up to a maximum fine of $1,000 or one year in jail, or both. Under no circumstance may the court defer or suspend any portion of the minimum $500.00 fine for any conviction under this chapter. Each day or part thereof of noncompliance with said stop work order shall constitute a separate offense. (Ord. 2009-085 § 1 (Exh. A), 2009).

20.94.060 Appeals.

The hearing examiner shall have the authority to hear and decide, in conformity with this title, appeals pursuant to WCC 20.84.240, unless as specifically noted differently under this chapter. (Ord. 2009-085 § 1 (Exh. A), 2009).

20.94.070 Permit revocation.

The zoning administrator, and/or designee, is authorized to suspend or revoke a permit issued under the provisions of this code in instances where the hearing examiner does not otherwise have authority pursuant to WCC 20.92.250. The county may suspend or revoke a permit whenever the permit is issued in error or on the basis of incorrect, inaccurate or incomplete information, and/or when a substantial or a continued violation of the terms and/or conditions of a permit have not been met. (Ord. 2009-085 § 1 (Exh. A), 2009).

20.94.080 Additional consequences of violations.

(1) When a violation has been documented on the site, the zoning administrator, and/or designee, may require that a covenant or agreement be recorded against the deed to inform future property owners of the current restrictions or approved land uses. The county may draft the covenant or agreement upon whatever terms the county in its discretion deems proper.

(2) When a violation has occurred on a site, any and all future permits or approvals issued by the county that pertain to this title may be denied for that site until compliance has been achieved to the satisfaction of the zoning administrator, and/or designee.

(3) In addition to the civil remedies imposed above, the county or the owner or owners of land affected by violations of the provisions of this title may bring such injunctive, declaratory or other actions as deemed necessary to ensure that violations are prevented or cease, and to otherwise enforce the provisions of this title.

(4) Any person who, through an act of commission or omission, procures, aids or abets in the violation shall be considered to have committed a violation for the purposes of the civil penalty. (Ord. 2009-085 § 1 (Exh. A), 2009).